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What It Is Like To Be "Essential"

Each morning I am woken by the pit in my stomach It intensifies until I get out of bed I go through my routine, the pit is still there Breakfast, coffee, vitamins Shower, shave, dress I leave the house for work, the pit sends a pang A stop at the store is necessary this morning Mask on face, I enter Wipe the shopping cart Quickly make my way through Hit hands with some type of sanitizer Get to work, wash hands, put on different mask See patients, see staff, smile for the first time We are in this together and all keep moving Somedays the smile is genuine, other times it is another mask Unless it touches my eyes, no one can see it Humor and laughs are another veil It is lunchtime, lock the doors, warm up a meal Wash my hands for the 20th time Eat alone, the pit is still there Close my eyes for a little while Get back a bit of sleep that eluded me the night before Open for the afternoon, all the masks go back on The routine is the same and it masks the pit Wash hands that are dry and sore Get home, wash hands again, and then a shower I scrub and scrub and scrub Eat dinner alone Knowing I don't have to leave the house tomorrow The pit is a bit decreased, but it is still there Read, write, watch a bit of television Pet my little dog, she knows I'm not the same Her expressive face is a reflection of mine To keep from tearing up, I need to look away Coat my hands with Vaseline Go to bed alone, the pit still there Courage is not the absence of fear it is management of that fear Right now, for just a moment, I wish for the absence

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